With layoffs, Disney World live entertainment remains dark because of COVID-19

With many of its live entertainment shows gone dark because of the coronavirus, Walt Disney World has laid off 720 actors and singers, according to the Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing the performers.

Only 60 Equity performers are working or returning to work at the Orlando, Florida-based theme park resort, the union said in a statement.

The performer layoffs were part of The Walt Disney Co.’s plans to eliminate 28,000 jobs in its parks division in California and Florida because of restrictions and costs from the pandemic. Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers.

“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful.”

The union said the laid off performers would maintain their right to be recalled for job openings until the end of 2021.

Disney World reopened in July after a three-month shutdown. Disneyland remains closed, and it could be weeks or even months before California’s coronavirus guidelines will allow the park to reopen.

In a post to the Disney Parks blog on Friday, the company addressed the layoffs and said it would bring back live shows and entertainment experiences when appropriate.

“As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back,” Disney said.

Contributing: Curtis Tate, USA TODAY

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